The Nordic Championship for Finland’s U17 juniors
Finland’s U17 American football youth secured victory in the Nordic Championship tournament’s final match against Sweden on Saturday in Oslo. Finland’s all-time fifth Nordic Championship was sealed with a score of 34-21 (25-7).
Finland’s U17 youth successfully defended their Nordic Championship on Saturday in Oslo. Despite Sweden’s strong start, taking the lead with a direct kickoff into Finland’s goal, the Finnish team quickly recovered from the opponent’s lightning start and took control of the game with an impressive defensive performance.
Sweden’s early onslaught did not discourage Finland. Sweden began the Nordic Championship final in a crushing manner. Justin Boney, awarded as the best player of his team, returned the opening kickoff 80 yards straight into Finland’s end zone, and the opponent’s extra point attempt went through the uprights, giving the Swedes a 0-7 lead. When Elias Haapamäki’s pass was intercepted by a Swedish defender in Finland’s second offensive possession, the situation seemed challenging. However, Finland’s defense stepped up.
Finland’s first offensive possession of the game ended with Raul Khalifa intercepting the ball from the Swedish center, giving Finland possession in a favorable field position. Throughout the game, Finnish defenders played sacrificially and managed to intercept the ball from the opponent seven times. The game practically decided in the second quarter when Kaappo Peltola made two crucial interceptions as the Swedes tried to stage a comeback. Finland won the second quarter with a score of 20-0.
Sweden’s Boney scored three touchdowns
Finland’s defense successfully kept the Swedish offense in check, limiting the yellow-clad players to negative rushing yards (-5) and a total of only 91 yards gained in the game. For comparison, in their semifinal against Denmark, the Swedes rushed for exactly 200 yards and amassed a total of 419 yards (Sweden vs. Denmark 62-2).
When Sweden’s offense couldn’t break through Finland’s rock-solid defense, one man took the entire yellow-clad team on his shoulders. Sweden’s two initial touchdowns came from Justin Boney’s kickoff returns. Additionally, in the final quarter of the game, the same player broke away from the Finnish defense, scoring his team’s third touchdown.”
QB Haapamäki MVP of Finland
The Finnish offense, which got off to a rocky start, can credit the solid field positioning provided by the defense, enabling them to put points on the board. The MVP of the final was named Finland’s quarterback Elias Haapamäki, who threw three touchdowns and ran for one himself. Scoring the most points for Finland on Saturday was wide receiver Rene Rautiainen with two touchdowns.
The decisive moment of the match occurred towards the end when Seeti Korpi successfully kicked his second field goal between the uprights, and Juho Kasari intercepted the final pass from the Swedish quarterback. From that point on, the clock was run down by taking a knee.
In the tournament’s bronze medal match, the host team Norway defeated Denmark with a score of 17-2.
The Nordic championship is the fifth for Finland’s U17 national team. No other Nordic country has achieved such success in the tournament’s history.
Stats: Loppuottelun tilastot
Photos: J-P Peltokangas